Real Bridge

Playing in a Sectional Tournament at Clubs (STaC) game at a local club, my partner and I sit down against some friendly opponents. I guess they think a lot of us, because my LHO says, "maybe there'll be some real bridge played at this table."

Their auction is swift and dummy is impressive:

S: J
H: AK54
D: AK872
C: KJ3
S: 1092
H: Q102
D: 103
C: A10987

Partner emerges with a small diamond lead, a bit to my surprise. Declarer thinks about this for quite awhile, then rises with the D:A, dropping the D:J from hand. That has to be a singleton. Declarer is probably 5314; prospects look dire. On the other hand, partner must have the H:J or why would he not lead the fourth suit? Declarer must have all the remaining high cards, so it's reasonable to guess she has  S:AKQ?x H:xxx D:J C:Qxxx. That's a pretty minimal opening bid, but most would open it. It's possible she has six spades or five clubs and therefore a doubleton heart. The 3NT call would be distinctly odd with six spades and no heart stopper, but I've seen stranger bids. If she's 5314, she has at least four spade tricks, two hearts, two diamonds, and two clubs. Probably, she has five spades to make 11 tricks. There will be a double squeeze around hearts; I don't see anything we can do about it, so she'll make 12 tricks when I can't keep clubs and hearts, and partner can't keep diamonds and hearts. I don't know if this declarer will be up to cashing the D:K early on, but I need to be concerned.

Declarer hasn't given the hand enough thought to be working on double squeeze lines, I imagine. At trick two, she leads the S:J from dummy. It holds, and partner plays a low one. I don't know if partner is giving count or not, but if so, declarer is 6214. She has six spades, two clubs and two AKs for twelve tricks. Entries may be an issue. Next, declarer leads the C:K from dummy. I play low in tempo. There's no way I'm taking that one; I need to deprive her of the entries for the double squeeze if she's 5314. She leads the C:J from the table. Huh? I expected a low one; when I duck this, she needs to overtake with the C:Q or she'll never be back in her hand for the spades. If she were planning to do that, she'd've led the small club. I happily (and hopefully quickly) duck that, too. She doesn't overtake! The hand is about to turn ugly for declarer. When partner shows out on the second club, pitching a small spade (!), declarer stops and looks very unhappy. She can still get home if she has the H:J, now; she just cashes the other high diamond and plays a club. She does not, luckily; she leads another club. I hop in with my C:A on this one and return my last diamond. I hope partner covers this as we are then sure to beat it at least two tricks. No, that does not happen, but declarer wins and continues diamonds. Partner wins this happily and cashes another diamond winner. He's kept a small diamond, so he exits to dummy in that suit. Declarer cashes a high heart; I unblock the H:10. I'm pretty sure that declarer is 6214 now, so I'm ready to unblock the H:Q to get the maximum. Declarer, instead, plays a low heart. I play the H:Q and continue the suit. Partner claims the last trick with the H:J9 for down four!

Of course, this is a top board; everyone is making about twelve tricks as spades are 3-3. Someone will probably go down in 6S: on a club ruff, but the traveler reveals none so far. In any case, +400 will beat them. I'm a little amused, as just last Sunday, I had to duck a club trick, losing a trick in the suit (as here) in order to deprive declarer of an entry to hand. We beat 1NT then, and while the defensive play was not difficult, it was not duplicated, either.

I don't know if this qualifies as "real bridge," but it was a fun hand for us.

Copyright © 2001 Jeff Goldsmith